December 10, 2006–New York–On Human Rights Day, and at the close of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, MADRE, an international women's human rights organization, emphasizes the imperative to combat violence against women and girls worldwide. In partnership with community-based women's groups in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East, MADRE supports a wide range of programs that confront gender-based violence within a broad-based human rights framework.
In the midst of armed conflict, humanitarian disaster, and entrenched gender inequality, MADRE's sister organizations are on the front lines combating violence against women and girls:
In Iraq, MADRE partners with the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) to protect women from an epidemic of violence unleashed by the US invasion. Since 2004, OWFI has opened five women's shelters for women seeking refuge from rape, kidnappings, forced marriage, and other forms of gender-based violence, and established the Underground Railroad for Iraqi Women, a network that enables women to escape "honor killings".
In Kenya, MADRE partners with the Umoja Uaso Women's Group, an organization founded by Indigenous Samburu women, many of whom are survivors of gender-based violence. With MADRE support–including teacher trainings and school supplies–Umoja provides community-based education for young girls and boys as a means to promote human rights. In rural, isolated areas such as Samburuland, girls are often assaulted when walking to schools miles from home. Umoja's school has been instrumental in reducing girls' risk of rape because it allows them to avoid traveling long distances.
In Haiti, where incidents of rape and other human rights violations have escalated sharply in recent years, MADRE partners with KOFAVIV to meet rape survivors' immediate needs and help bring perpetrators to justice. KOFAVIV provides survivors with counseling and free, high-quality medical care, including testing and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, prenatal care for women who become pregnant as a result of rape, and medical certificates, which are important for prosecuting perpetrators in court.
In Colombia, a decades-long civil war has displaced millions, the vast majority of whom are women and their families. Over 11, 000 children have been recruited by armed forces, and 25 percent of combatants are under the age of 18. MADRE partners with Taller de Vida in Bogotá to provide critical services for displaced Afro-Colombian and Indigenous women and youth, and offer peaceful, viable alternatives for young people who are at risk of being recruited as child-soldiers.
MADRE's Executive Director, Vivian Stromberg, made this statement: "This Human Rights Day, MADRE reaffirms our commitment to confronting gender-based violence–a human rights crisis of epidemic proportions. MADRE understands that violence against women is not limited to physical aggression or sexual abuse; MADRE's partners know too well that it can also take the form of poverty-inducing economic or "development" policies, racism and social exclusion, and increasing militarism. As such, MADRE will continue our support for programs that operate within a human rights framework and acknowledge the myriad, reinforcing manifestations of violence in women's and girls' lives."